West, Aldridge have no regrets about joining Spurs despite playoff flop
David West took an $11-million pay cut last summer to join the San Antonio Spurs, citing a desire to compete for a championship in the twilight of his career. That same impetus spurred LaMarcus Aldridge to rebuff a slew of free-agent suitors and don the black and silver.
Things went about as well as they could've hoped in the regular season, as the Spurs ran off a franchise-best 67 wins, tied an NBA record by going 40-1 at home, and finished with the seventh-best point differential in history.
That brilliant season, though, ended in bitter disappointment, as the Spurs fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games in the Western Conference semis. All told, the Spurs won just three more playoff games than the Indiana Pacers team West left (declining a $12.6-million option in the process), and just one more than Aldridge's jilted Portland Trail Blazers.
But the Spurs organization has long valued process over results, and Aldridge and West are taking the disappointment in stride.
"Winning isn't easy," Aldridge said, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. "It was our first year together, and it wasn't a bad first year. We just have to build on it."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke glowingly of Aldridge's character and adaptability.
"He's fit in quicker than anybody I think we've ever had for a first-year guy," Popovich said. "Especially with such an experienced team, him trying to figure out where his place was. I thought he was phenomenal in that regard."
"We had a good run," said West. "We ran into two of the best players in the league right now (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook). They deserved to win."
West took not only a dramatic pay cut but a significant reduction in role. He started every game he played from the 2005-06 season through 2014-15, but was an 18-minute-a-game player for the Spurs, coming off the bench for all but 19 contests. Most players would agree that sort of sacrifice is worthwhile if there's a championship lying in wait (just ask Andre Iguodala), but it's harder to stomach when the team comes up empty. Still, West has no regrets about his decision.
"I'm good, I'm really good," he said. "This was a good situation for me."
West has a player option for next season worth $1.5 million, but said he has "no clue" whether he'll exercise it or not. Regardless, he's relished the opportunity to be part of the Spurs culture.
"I enjoyed every step of the way."
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